Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Thursday, March 31, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 22: Atlantis, Hirooki Goto, Negro Casas vs La Sombra, Rush, Strong Man

2011-04-08 @ Arena México
Atlantis, Hirooki Goto, Negro Casas vs La Sombra, Rush, Strong Man

I probably shouldn't linger too much on trios matches that are just fun. That said, there are a bunch of title matches in this period for Sombra, but we don't have them online so I am lingering a bit out of necessity.

That said, there's a lot to see here. First you have Goto as a fish out of water. Then there's Casas and Atlantis teaming as rudos, which is enjoyable. You have Strong Man, Jon Anderson, who's pretty terrible, but a really wonderful foil for someone like Negro Casas to play off of. They did things like hit a double suplex on him in the primera only to have it backfire in the tercera. And there's Rush, who, by this point, while bood heavily by the post-Mistico crowd, was willing to hit really hard and lean into things. His entire current existence as an Ingobernable was probably because he got a bum deal here. He was working hard and deserved something other than the boos.

Sombra sort of disappears here until the end of the match, more than I've seen him do lately. Some of that is Anderson taking up a lot of the screen. Some of it is Rush's eagerness. His one big exchange with Goto in the tecera felt a bit disjointed. He did have a much better one with Casas shortly thereafter and finished things up with Atlantis and a big step up plancha on Goto. The difference in reaction to him and Rush was striking.

Another quick and fun trios. Strong Man was the captain here. Rush more of the focus, with dynamic strike exchanges against both Goto and Casas (including brawling with Goto after the match). Sombra was more of a background role but he played it well.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 21: Blue Panther, La Máscara, La Sombra vs Atlantis, Dragón Rojo Jr., Último Guerrero

2011-03-29 @ Arena México
Blue Panther, La Máscara, La Sombra vs Atlantis, Dragón Rojo Jr., Último Guerrero

5:37 in

There's something to say for predictable ritual in pro wrestling. Hulk Hogan was the most successful thing in the world for six years by giving the fans what they expected again and again. Some shine, a beatdown after cheating, the hulk-up, the bodyslam, the big boot, the leg drop, five minutes of the ear cupping. It worked, in part, because you only saw it once every couple of months, either live or on a TV Special or Pay Per View. It never really had a chance to wear out its welcome.

So imagine it on a weekly basis over twelve years or so. That's Ultimo Guerrero. There are wrinkles, but he's presented the same trios match to the Arena Mexico crowd, generally in the main event or second-from-the-top match for well over a decade. It's intentional. It's ritual. He draws a crowd for his big matches. It's what the people expect. It might even be what a large number of them want to see.

Either there's an ambush to begin or, like here, there's at least one exchange. Here it was Sombra and Dragon Rojo, and they did a good job with it. They match up very well at this stage of their careers. The singles' matches for the title are still a year or two off here, but I'm bet they'll be good when we get there. This ended with Sombra chasing Rojo outside and Atlantis and Guerrero swarming out after them. That gave us a pretty good beatdown on the floor.
and the start of their standard tandem offense. That's one reason why this match is acceptable week in and week out. The tandem offense (the alley oop body splash; the drop toe-hold/elbows; the flip up facebuster; the triple corner attack ending with the senton de la muerte; here, the press up drop kick) is zingy and iconic.
And the transition, pretty much the same in every match. They go for the alley oop body splash for a second time (the first usually being on the ramp, the second in the ring), and it fails. It's pure, excessive hubris, predictable but stemming from an eternal well of ego, which is why it probably works.

Sombra fit into this formula well. He could match up with Rojo evenly, with Guerrero as a slight upstart, and with Atlantis as a young rebel against the grumpy old legend. He felt like an equalizing force in the ring, especially in the tercera which was full of cut offs and resets. By this stage, he came off as a star.

As Guerreros trios go, this was a fun one. It was zippy. It kept moving. There was little fat to cut. Rojo was a really solid part of the act, even though rudo Atlantis was probably wearing thin by this point. Fun match.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 9: Aztec Warfare II

AZTEC WARFARE II, w/ Fenix, Rey Mysterio, King Cuerno, Argenis, Johnny Mundo, Joey Ryan, Prince Puma, Jack Evans, Taya, Cage, Mascarita Sagrada, Marty "The Moth" Martinez, Drago, The Mack, Chavo Guerreo Jr., PJ Black, Aerostar, Dragon Azteca Jr., Texano, Mil Muertes, & Matanza

PAS: This is a pretty flawlessly put together match of this type. Really great individual moments weaved in with some big action, and a pair of great debuts. Rey comes in and is immediately the best guy in this fed, he has such immaculate timing on all of his spots and really knows how to pick and choose big moments in a crazy match like this. Rey was always a great Royal Rumble worker and is a perfect choice to be the longest lasting guy in a match like this. Jack Evans may have been my favorite guy in this, just lunatic bump after lunatic bump including a bunch of them in the periphery. There is a part where Mack and Cage are exchanging shots in the ring and you see Jack fly down a flight of stairs head first. Only real complaint was the Pentagon Jr. v. Mil stuff, Mil has been booked so strong in this fed, that there really should have been a bigger beatdown before he got pinned. Couple of chairshots (especially those mediocre ones) shouldn't have done it. Matanza debut was pretty perfect, I like the mask and blood splattered gear and he looked great mowing people down with throws. I also loved the little mini-match with Rey, reminded me of the great Rey v. Mark Henry matches, I hope we get to see those two get a longer showdown int he future. After a slow start LU has really been cooking the last couple of weeks.

ER: The crowd reaction to Rey's entrance was incredible. It was like the wrestling fan version of Oprah giving out cars to her audience. I get it. I'd have done the same. And that starts off what turns into a relentless, crazy, and most importantly satisfying rumble style match. Rey Rey is really just kind of this style, and he's rightfully treated like a major deal throughout. Even other tecnicos would hit their moves, but then feed a guy to Rey for a splash and pinfall, and it was fun watching guys feed Rey's offense or just try and get in a shot with him. Like Mascarita doing a neat floatover pin to put the icing on a Rey pin, or guys setting up opponents for Rey to do a 619, or setting up his awesome belly slide splash to the floor. Rey moved around like 2004 Rey, taking big bumps (love his new missed 619 Fuerza bump, here with perfect rope pulling timing from Taya) and flawless execution. Damn, people. Mysterio. Fenix got some nice moments including his gorgeous rope run tornillo and being on the receiving end of Cuerno's devastating tope. Can't believe someone would have the stones to just sit there and wait to be nailed by that. I liked Mundo's crew of zero body fat assholes, all taking big spills and not needing to be cool heels, just being unlikeable. Evans especially takes some amazing falls in this match, getting hiptossed from the next level of seats, taking a screaming headlong sprint down the flight of stairs, splashing into nothing, just a crazy showboat performance. Taya continues to impress me by at least taking moves at full strength. Guys don't have to gently place her down the same way they do with Sexy Star. Taya also shows plenty of good instincts, like wisely pinning Cage in an unorthodox way to avoid putting Cage in the awkward position of having to move himself away from the ropes. It takes smarts to not make your opponents not look like an idiot like that.

I loved Joey Ryan's fool proof plan that he didn't think about at all, as the second he puts the plan in action it immediately and painfully backfires, with guys superkicking him, Drago misting him, Sagrada getting powerbombed into him, Famous B handing him a card and him not being able to avoid a sales pitch (imagine being locked up and unable to duck behind a window as Jehovah's Witnesses walk up your driveway). I think Chavo was a SUPER underrated part of this match, as he was incredible at running traffic, surviving, and just mugging and schticking through things. I loved him regularly throwing guys to the wolves, loved him ducking down behind the ring skirt to avoid being seen, really putting a level of personality on display that a lot of guys in the fed don't have. And then we get a couple of big debuts as Rey Horus makes a nice impression as Dragon Azteca Jr., going through some cool spots and a nice slingshot rana to the floor. And of course Jeff Cobb finally debuts as Matanza. I remember Phil and I bringing him up well over a year ago, the first time Matanza was even brought up on air. "Who is available that would even make sense as Matanza!?" And we both thought of Cobb, right away. Is he the same height as me? Yes. But the guy is a legit physical freak, and I really love his bloody coveralls and mask. He looks like a final boss monster in Manhunt. And here he gets to showcase all of his skills, his reverse momentum powerslam, catching Rey mid rana, hoisting him back up, shifting him into powerslam, going back the other direction with it. He manhandled Rey for so long that as the sequence kept going some guy audibly screams "WHAT!?" in the crowd. I do wish they didn't have Matanza eliminate like 8 guys in a row, each person getting in one by one to fall to their doom. Crowd started getting restless around the 3rd elimination, figuring that nobody was going to stop him, and even started booing hard at one point, and it felt like more of a "we are rejecting this" kind of boo as opposed to them booing a heel (which the crowd really does tend to do).

It's hard to establish one man as being THIS dominant as where do you go from there? Cobb is clearly more talented than Zeus, but when you make a man with no actual weak points, able to withstand any type of offense, how do you go about beating him? What will his weakness turn out to be? You had Cage going through a window which was a holy shit heel turn spot last season, but here Cage is back 100% unscathed literally moments later. And I understand why they got Muertes out of there so quickly, and it was smart to not have him cross paths with Matanza, but MAN that was a shitty way for him to get taken out of the match that quickly. A couple of weak ass Lance Storm chairshots from Pentagon and then a splash from Rey. That's all it takes to eliminate Mil freaking Muertes? That was laaaaaaame. So some guys get eliminated too easily, too quickly, and that's one flaw in having a pinfall elimination rumble instead of over the top. You give up high flying moves (which this fed clearly thrives on), but guys also have to be definitively beaten to be eliminated, instead of teamed up and tossed over. Still, we got enough violence and wild spots to make your brain gloss that kind of stuff over.

ER: So there were a couple of stumbles down the stretch, and that keeps this from being completely great, but overall for an hour of wrestling television? Things don't get too much better than this. The show is on a nice little run after going through several weeks of some of their lower points. This right here is the show that made us want to write up every episode in the first place. Great "full show" match, easily landing on our 2015 MOTY List.


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Monday, March 28, 2016

Hey, This Happened: Naoya Ogawa vs. Baby Hashimoto

Naoya Ogawa vs. Daichi Hashimoto IGF 12/31/15

ER: People do weird things in life to honor their fathers. Or avenge their fathers. Or...look, I don't know. Sometimes people follow in the steps of their fathers and sometimes they don't. But Naoya Ogawa has now kicked two different generations of Hashimotos directly in their eye socket. He may be the only person who gets to brag about that. My father and I both have the same middle name, Earl. But so far in our lives we have not been kicked in the eye by the same man. I have never been kicked in the eye, so anybody who has kicked my father in the eye has not yet tracked me down. Daichi Hashimoto is still very young, but probably too old to still have "going through a phase" hair. With his purple bangs you can perfectly visualize the awkward family dinners with his folks asking him how school was and Daichi just sitting there with his arms crossed, asking to be excused without even touching his food that his mother took time to prepare. But he jumps Ogawa before the bell and attacks with slaps and kicks, enough to make Ogawa roll to the floor to put some distance between. But Hash chases and then Ogawa tees right off on him, laying him out with a rough high kick. Daichi crumbles admirably. Back in and Daichi attempts some stuff from a mount but Ogawa wriggles out, punishes him, and then casually walks up behind a kneeling Hashimoto and wraps a kick around his left orbital bone. Done. Ogawa does the airplane taunt over another fallen Hashimoto; Kazuyuki Fujita, looking more and more like George the Animal Steele only with no eyebrows, gets in the ring and tries to start shit; somewhere, someone checks to see if Gary Steele or Dylan Night have children, who he can then book against Colby Corino and Daichi Hashimoto in a 4 way iron man match, to be held at some Allentown, PA Vet's building. Was that person me? Perhaps.

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MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 20: La Sombra vs Psicosis II

2011-03-14 @ Arena Puebla
La Sombra vs Psicosis II

0:10 in

I have a lot of ground to cover still, but this match feels especially notable beacuse it came one night after Sombra's title win over Mephisto and for the most part, it's a very different match with a number of different spots, a different pace, a different layout. There were elements of commonality but I think the differences help to show how he'd come into his own by this point.

Psicosis II is currently Ripper/Reaper and he doesn't have the attitude or flair as his predecessor but he's a perfectly competent rudo flyer. Unlike the title match which started the requisite minutes of matwork, this hit the ground running (soaring). Psicosis ran straight into the ring, was rana'd and tope'd. The cameras missed it as they were getting the opening match graphics out of the way. That's how quick it was. Sombra plancha'ed back in, went for another one off the top, and was hit by a Michinoku Driver off the top for a quick fall.

It was a tradeoff. There was more to the Mephisto match but this was instantly dynamic. Moreover, while that was back and forth throughout, Psicosis catching Sombra here led to the heat segment that would encompass the segunda. Different matches with different builds but neither was one of A or one of b completely.

Sombra sold well in the segunda, including layering in a hope spot or two, which you don't always see in CMLL Singles matches with heat. Psicosis was focused and had some pretty solid offense. This ended with Sombra reversing a whip for a short powerslam and the double moonsault. It was a dumb move, especially in the midst of Sombra's selling but I did like it as yet another move Sombra could take a fall with. He wins just one fall with it, now and again, and it becomes a viable nearfall for the finish of matches, especially in chaotic trios terceras.

The tercera was back and forth with big spots. I like how Psicosis took advantage early by working on the leg. It was entirely to soften Sombra up so he could hit big power moves, which isn't the sort of thing you see too often. Sombra had a mini comeback there too, or at least a chapter break, leading to a flip dive. Despite the short first fall, the exhaustion in selling here felt earned. It allowed for a balance in the kickouts. Psicosis' offense was high end but it never felt outlandish that Sombra was kicking out. It made the near-falls more believable in both aspects of the word.

Good, high-octane match that stayed on the rails, and another solid, yet different, performance for Sombra. They have a title match shortly after this and it's a shame it's not online because I'd like to see it.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 8: Life After Death

ER: Dammmmn Fenix and Catrina bring the sensuality, with tender arm caressing and neck touching and gentle tear wiping. I bought in. You can't fake upper arm caressing or waist touching. Shit's real.

1. Ivelisse, Angelico & Son of Havoc vs. Disciples of Death

ER: We get another major stipulation literally mentioned as an afterthought, as Melissa Santos does ring intros and as she's exiting the ring goes "Oh, the team of Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc have agreed to leave the temple forever if they lose." Oh. Okay! It immediately telegraphs the ending, although it would have been quite the hilarious boner if it hadn't. I mean, they hadn't wrestled on TV in a month, and I can't think of a more last minute way to announce a major stip like being gone FOREVER, so by doing that either you immediately reveal the result (which is what happened),  or you treat a major stip - again - like an afterthought. So stupidity aside, and it was stupid, the match was fun. Short and rather inconsequential, but fun. Disciples of Death are second only to Sexy Star in terms of Striker's commentary not ever matching up to anything we've ever seen. "This team is hate personified" "Don't be alarmed by their violence" This is a team who has beaten Pimpi teaming with a mini, lost to Puma/Pentagon without ever even having an advantage despite them being on the privileged side of a handicap, and then got handily beaten here. This is not a team anybody is scared of. Billy Zabka's skeleton gang looked far more menacing biking after Ralph Macchio. They aren't violent, they don't wrestle any bit out of the ordinary. They have never, ever looked threatening. Nothing at all about them is "the embodiment of pure evil". One of them did a really nasty stretch muffler on Ivelisse. That, I liked. Your tecnicos all looked good with Ivelisse standing out, as she has better facials than the other members of her team it's easier for her to make stuff more meaningful.

PAS: This was fine, the Ivelisse, Angelico, Havoc team have turned into a consistently entertaining act. Ivelisse is by far the best in ring female act in the fed and has been able to make the otherwise terrible mixed matches tolerable. The Disciples of Death are such goobers, a total zero. I like the idea of Muretes having a group of evil henchmen, but if you put jobbers like Ricky Mandel and Argenis under spooky masks you just have masked jobbers, and every time they wrestled they felt like that. I hope this is the end of this concept.

2. Bullrope Match: Chavo Guerrero vs. Texano

ER: This was a weird culmination of a pretty bad, very rushed feud. A few weeks ago Texano dominated a 3 on 1 handicap match and lost due to cheating. That kind of thing tends to lead to a cage match or something, but he's a whipmaster so for whatever reason it leads to a bullrope match. I guess that's his special match? They do a decent job, but this whole feud was dead out of the gates anyway, and a bullrope match doesn't tend to be a good visually violent match. I'm sure getting smacked with a thick rope hurts like hell, but it's a violence that hurts more the next day than to the TV audience watching at home. Still, this had moments. Chavo was effective getting yanked around by the rope, off the top, splitting his uprights; Texano took a nice spill through the ringside chairs, and spills through ringside chairs have officially become their version of a NOAH rail ride or a WWE ring steps bump. I like it. The chairs bump is the best of the three as you get tons of motion, like getting tossed into a swimming pool but you get rows of chairs rocking and sprawling. So yeah, okay enough match for what it was, and hopefully the feud is over. Texano has really been quite the muffled fart in LU so far.

PAS: I like Chavo, and I think he has had some nice character moments in this fed but he hasn't really delivered a great match, this was the closest to a good match, as there was some nice violence, but this could have used some blood or a bit more ferocity. I would have no problem if we never see Texano again.

ER: Muertes finally dispatches the Disciples of Death (at least two of them), flipping out and chucking them all around the locker room. I mean that's what happens when you summon a trio of jobbers from the netherrealm. You don't have Hogan recruit Joey Maggs and Frankie Lancaster to do his bidding.

3. Fenix vs. Mil Muertes

ER: Great great big match feel from the guy who has been probably the best big match worker of the last year plus. These guys both know how to read the room and that's important in a big match epic. It's not that far removed from just doing heatless spots in a questionable order. But this whole thing built and Fenix was really able to bring the fight to Muertes the Insatiable. Muertes would stomp him down and pound him through the mat but Fenix was so great in the struggle, so great at fighting back and surviving. Once masks started getting ripped you knew this shit was heating up. That's a thing we've seen a lot in actual lucha, but I don't believe that's a road they've traveled down in LU, as right when Mil started ripping into Fenix's mask it had an Oh Shit feel to it...and once Fenix started ripping Mil's mask it had an OHHH SHIIIIIIT feel to it. Once Muertes spears the shit out of Fenix off the apron things really start to feel real, and as they brawl through the crowd and the bloodied up Fenix is rubbing through people, Muertes just ups the ante by awesomely shoving Fenix into the crowd as he's running towards him on the rail. That was not what I was expecting. Just a bullying, tossed off shove right into the crowd. The fans help Fenix back, and the lunatic runs right back onto that rail, launching himself at the farthest point right into Muertes on the floor. Muertes gets pissed and back in we get nastiness like a DDT off the top rope and a vicious urunage. You haven't seen a urunage this awesome since grumpy old man Hiroshi Hase wrestled a trainee. But Fenix keeps fighting, and just when he's down that's when he sneaks in a superkick, or a rabbit punch, tricking Mil into punching a chair, just annoying Muertes with his mere survival. I was not actually seeing his victory coming. I was looking forward to a long Muertes reign, just a dominant monster on top of his throne. Fenix getting the win was a big surprise and a nice moment, but now I'm wondering what the angry godlord is going to do to get his title back. There's something special about not just an epic, but a main event epic, and this totally delivered.

PAS: This was a killer match, that is three great matches this pair of guys had in 2015. I am pretty sure Fenix got his mask ripped in Grave Consequences too, but Fenix tearing Muertes's mask and blooding him up was a great moment. Fenix is awesome at throwing in crazy highspots in ways that fit in perfectly,  there are a lot of guys in LU who do cool shit, no one makes it matter as much as him. Muertes is so great, he is maybe the best guy at working at vulnerable monster since Vader (Brock is great, but I think I would take Muertes over him.) Great overcoming the odds victory, which makes the goofy post match a little worse, they should have let the victory soak in a bit.

ER: They announce that Aztec Warfare is now for Fenix's just won title, and Fenix is now the #1 entrant, and Mil is now the #20 entrant. That kind of stuff is starting to feel way too overdone and "The Authority" when I'd rather just see Mil murder somebody. We'll see how that works, but this show was mostly a win, and you can argue with that main event it was a major win. And this show needed a win after the last few weeks.

PAS: I totally agree, that kind of stuff is very bush league heel authority figure stuff. This fed is at its best when it does its own thing, and there is no need to book like a tossed off RAW episode. This is the same instinct that brings in guys like PJ Black, and it isn't a good one.

***Muertes/Fenix is an easy add to our 2015 Ongoing MOTY List, because apparently every time these dudes match up it manages to be completely great***


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Saturday, March 26, 2016

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

Yuki Ishikawa v. Freedom Wallace BattleArts Academy 12/19

PAS: Wow, so Yuki Ishikawa is still who he is. This was by far the best of your Canuk Ishikawa, as Wallace was truly game to work a main event match. Match had the mix of beautiful grappling and harrowing violence you want in a Yuki Ishikawa main event. Opens up with rolling for submissions and Ishikawa is just breathtaking at grabbing limbs and necks and twisting them off, he is always looking to improve his position, and switch to something nasty. Wallace did a nice job not being completely overwhelmed and had some nice counters of his own. The match really hit another gear when it got chippy, Ishikawa gets top position and cracks Wallace in the ear with a slap and digs a hook into his ribs. Wallace gets an elevator, top position and cleans the plaque off of Yuki's teeth with a forearm, and that set the tone. There were parts of this match that got more pro wrestling, and even Wallace's stomps and dropkicks had some real steam on them. There was this great moment when Ishikawa loads up a nasty surfboard which Wallace breaks with an eye rake. When Ishikawa gets his bearings he unloads with hell and for a moment we reached Ikeda v. Ishikawa. Match just had me grinning all night.

ER: From here on out we will be referring to all Canadian Ishikawa as Youppi Ishikawa. And Youppi Ishikawa has not missed a damn beat since his Batt heyday. I love aggressive Ishikawa and here we get a bunch of that. We're used to on-the-ropes Ishikawa, where he's taking a lot of punishment and just trying to outlast his opponent, looking for his opening - and we do get some of that here - but for much of this he's on the prowl and stretching and smacking Freedom into the next section of match. Freedom ain't free, and Wallace paid for his in hyperextended elbows and punched ribs. I enjoyed the pro wrestling feel that Phil mentioned, as parts were almost WWE doing a worked shoot match, with real mat struggle combined with guys doing signature offense. Ishikawa leads Freedom through a few standing exchanges, but Freedom looks good on the ground. I especially liked him trying to grapevine Ishikawa's arm, Ishikawa shifting out of it, but Freedom suckering him right into a side triangle. I loved Ishikawa going full ham down the stretch with signature offense. Suddenly the match felt like a WorldWide match going home, with Youppi dropping him with a couple Saito suplexes, setting up the enziguiri, and locking on a nasty snug Octopus. It felt like me playing as Ishikawa in Virtual Pro Wrestling 2. I loved it.


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Friday, March 25, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 19: La Sombra vs Mephisto © [NWA WELTER]

2011-03-13 @ Arena México
La Sombra vs Mephisto © [NWA WELTER]

6:49 in

I'm still under the notion that some people not at all familiar with CMLL might be reading these because they want a primer on Sombra's career. In that case I should take a moment to explain the NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship and how it differed from the NWA World Welterweight Championship, but it really doesn't matter. I could go into Mephisto too, but all you really need to know is that he was a former tecnico that Satanico used dark magic to make into a rudo. He's good at his job, but his job is never very interesting.

This was a big match for Sombra and also a good way to see how far he'd come in singles title matches. And he'd come far. This was a very competant match, which doesn't sound too impressive, but it felt like it accomplished what it set out to do and that doesn't always happen in a match like this.

The hardest part in a title match, debatably at least, is the wrestling-centric primera. It needs to be long enough, with enough competitive, engaging matwork. None of what Sombra and Mephisto did was particular dynamic, but it  hit the other marks. Past a nice Mephisto bridge, they were basically doing simple things well, but they spent enough time doing it well that Sombra came off as credible and deserving. Like a lot of these, it escalated into rope running including the first of a few Devil's Wings counters by Sombra, to set up for the twisting split legged moonsault.

The primera was short but sufficiently back and forth, with Mephisto dropping the sportsmanship and mounting a couple of ambushes, only for Somba's athleticism to allow him to fight back. He went for one too many springboards, however, and landed in a Mephisto powerbomb for the second fall.

The tercera was, once again, exactly what it had to be, with bigger and bigger bombs, selling, and near-falls. Sombra hit the perfect dive, starting by setting it up by tapping the turnbuckle and telegraphing it for the crowd, then running across the ring, leaping and twisting to the top rope and moonsaulting off, finishing it by ending up in the crowd.

Nothing says "Proof of escalating bombs" quite like a muscle buster:

and a sloppy splash mountain:

and other Satanic Rudo Averno hyping the crowd?

And I'll stop the gifs there, but it continued to go back and forth, including Mephisto getting his knees up on Sombra's stupid double moonsault, and the godlike inverted flip dive, before Sombra finally took it with a dragonrana. One great thing about Sombra in this era that he really had four-five ways to realistically win a fall. That's not uncommon in CMLL but it added a lot to the layout of his big matches in the period.

This wasn't the best title match I've seen recently, but it was perfectly fine for a big single's title win for Sombra. He looked like he belonged in the spot and this thusly felt like a big deal.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

PWG From Out Of Nowhere 2/27/15 Partial Review

ER: Phil wrote up a couple of these matches 9 months ago, and usually if a card has two matches that look really good I'll go ahead and watch the rest of the card. So I started doing that, but once I got through the last match I really wanted to see (Hero/Gulak), I didn't really feel like watching three more 20+ minute PWG epics. So blame that on me for willingly watching a Chuck Taylor match. A bad choice to be sure, but not the worst choice I've ever made. For we are men. We are all just men. We are all just canceled fall CBS replacement sitcoms.

1. Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Biff Busick

PAS: Really fun spotfest intro match for Bailey. Felt kind of like the first Rey Jr. v. Psicosis matches in ECW, where you had a crazy impressive athletic guy show off his stuff with an opponent he is really familiar with. Bailey has a lot of Tae Kwon Doe training and throws these awesome looking spin kicks which he mixes in well with fast high spots, he did 10 crazy things in this match, and my favorite was a loony looking springboard headlock takeover. This was Busick as a power highspot guy, not a mat wrestler, and he really throws Bailey around. Fast food kind of match, but unlike a lot of PWG spotfests it hit the spot for me.

ER: Man this match was awesome! This might have actually been my favorite Bailey/Busick match and we've been collective fans of all of them. Bailey does neat little twists on a bunch of spots you're used to (the handspring headlock takeover was a wonderful momentum shifter, and Busick was great at looking like he was bracing for an elbow and then getting caught in the headlock) and throws these cool misdirection kicks where you think they're going to land one way and then loop under and hit you in the chin. Busick's power offense is sick and these two were practically made to work each other. Busick tossed Bailey in all sorts of great ways, battered him with mean uppercuts and shoulderblocks, and latched on with the best headlocks in the business. I could watch most of a match made up of Busick finding ways to get a guy in a headlock. Then he starts throwing his nice palm strikes while locking in the headlock?? His low bulldog, his accurate blockbuster?? Forget it, Busick just hits all the right notes. Finish probably went on a bit too long (this is PWG, after all) as they started kicking out of some pretty devastating moves (brutal lariat from Busick, shooting star kneedrop from Bailey, massive sleeper suplex from the floor to the ring by Busick) but I love these guys doing moves to each other so can't complain too much. I still love Busick's rear naked choke being treated like death, and this match was the best highlight reel match so far for me this year. Awesome stuff.

2. Cedric Alexander vs. Tommaso Ciampa

ER: Hey we're 2 for 2 on this show! Cedric Alexander (previously listed by us as one of the obvious better Lucha Underground black wrestler choices instead of Shane Strickland) has fun offense and so does Ciampa, and they string them together here in a satisfying way. Cedric throws a nice dropkick, can take a big bump and knows how to belly flop in an impressive way (seems like a lot of Ciampa's moves see his opponent falling at kind of a dangerous angle, and Cedric manages to take all of it in a painful way, but while protecting himself). Ciampa has some nice throws and I dug his cannonball off the apron. They worked around some really fun reversal-of-reversal spots and everything built into a nice little spotfest. I hadn't seen both men in awhile and they've both improved since my last viewing. That's always a nice thing.

3. Beaver Boys (John Silver & Alex Reynolds) vs. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent?)

ER: Well, we all knew what this would be. There are obviously many people who adore Taylor's shtick. The crowd was alive and way into this the entire time. They responded to every single thing he did in the match. He knows how to perfectly work in front of this audience. It just does nothing whatsoever for me. It is possible that I am a joyless shit sack, and in this instance I'd be okay with that. We get the grenade gag, some slow motion moves sold as high impact, some pause for photo gags, some Ace Ventura mannerisms, the whole shebang. My mouth was in a straight horizontal line the whole time. Trent is a guy who I think is an okay wrestler, who because of the shtick does very not okay things. Whereas Taylor is a guy who is a poor wrestler kind of saved by his shtick. I think Trent is capable of straight wrestling, whereas Taylor just looks bad no matter the circumstances. Trent has good timing, nice follow through on stuff like back elbows and running forearms, and knows how to take offense way better than Taylor. I had not seen the Beaver Boys before. I ended up liking Silver who is one of those short spark plug types. Reynolds was horrendous, like the worst possible version of Taylor. He had one long embarrassing comedy bit where he mimed jerking off on Trent, before "finishing" and throwing invisible jizz in Taylor's face, leading to Taylor desperately wiping it off with a rag. And you know that rag comes back multiple times the rest of the match. If you giggled at all while reading those last two sentences, that may be some insight into how much you would personally enjoy the match. Maybe it works better live. Maybe it works better while drunk. Maybe it works better if you're a teenage boy. I don't know. I don't think I have a very high brow sense of humor. But whatever brow level this is, it isn't for me. I think this could have been an actual good match, as once we got past the opening 12+ minutes of yuks there was plenty of the actual wrestling that I enjoyed. Beaver Boys in particular had an awesome run of timing based double teams, the kind where one guy does a move, immediately followed by the next guy, and so on. Silver had some cool deadlift suplexes and good energy (like to see more of this guy) but overall this match was close to 20 minutes of stuff that isn't meant for me. C'est la vie.

4. ACH vs. AR Fox

ER: Another one to file under "just not for me". Both guys do some things I like (although I would like ACH more if he cut down on the yuks, but there's me being a joyless shit sack again since obviously what he was doing worked fine for this audience), but both do stuff I don't like. ACH's comedy doesn't really blend with his actual wrestling, so we're left with starting off the match getting all his comedy spots in, and then eventually we transition to the "actual" match. This of course results in a neverending 22 minute match, and jesus why are PWG matches all so damn long? It really feels like they're long because each guy has shit and routines that they have to get in. "The fans are expecting the grenade bit, gotta fit it in" "The fans are expecting my Stone Cold routine, gotta fit it in". We bring back the jizz rag from the previous match, and really if you're working a jizz to the face spot you might as well work with a professional like AR Fox. We get a lot of intricate reversal sequences, and good timing is intrinsic in these things or else the curtain lifts a bit and you realize you're watching too much dance off, not enough wrestling. Stuff like ACH rushing, ducking a Fox kick, catching the kick around the back of his neck, then using that leverage to suplex Fox. But there are always little wrinkles like ACH not catching the kick flush, so having to place it there while Fox waits to be suplexed. There were things I liked about this, Fox had an awesome weird springboard cannonball to the floor, where he was facing the ring and sprung backward while tucking forward. It looked killer. Also really loved a giant swing that ACH did, where he grabbed Fox in a Texas Cloverleaf, did the swing while holding the Cloverleaf, and then set him down and locked in the sub. It looked great. We had a cool Fox dive over the turnbuckles, some of the worst 10 count punches you've ever seen (from both!), and overall this just didn't click for me.

5. Chris Hero vs. Drew Gulak
PAS: Really happy to see Hero mixing it up with the next generation of Indy mat guys, one of the cooler things in wrestling this year. This was the first of these match ups with EVOLVE running them in March. I really liked the beginning of this, with Gulak showing himself a step ahead, catching and dumping Hero with some fast german suplexes. Hero turned the tables with a killer elbow KO and landed some nasty kicks to the head and elbows. Finish run had Gulak going after the leg and even ripping off Hero's boot, it got a little discombobulated at the finish although I loved the jumping piledriver by Hero. Looking forward to checking out all of these.

ER: Classic great 16 minute PWG match, that goes 22 minutes. As they go, things keep building, and peaking, and building....and then still peaking....then more building....then an ending. These guys beat the holy hell out of each other but it's crazy how PWG matches so often overshoot that peak excitement and then kind of drift into mindless slog territory. The guys still look great, the work is still high end, you just want the match to end every single move past the point you mentally think it should have ended. I love how these two work around each other though. You can tell Hero is kinda like Kraneo, as he's put on a bunch of weight but still prides himself on agility and shutting up the naysayers by working as hard as ever. I loved his rolling ankle picks on Gulak and loved how the evolved during the match, how Gulak would get wiser to them and Hero would switch them up and go for fakeouts. And then Gulak would bait him and try and work his own ankle lock. But before long these two are railing into each other with kicks and elbows to the face. So, so many kicks and elbows to the face. Probably too many elbows and kicks to the face. But they aren't your standard issue your turn my turn growl strikes, because each guy is always looking for an opening, each guy is always waiting to catch a limb. And there are some damn cool sequences and reversals and some fun silly spots. I loved Gulak grabbing the ankle lock and Hero slipping out of his boot, kicking Gulak a bunch and but then getting leveled by Gulak swinging his own boot at him. Is it silly that a loose boot does more damage than a boot with a foot in it propelled by the force of a leg? Most definitely, but this is wrestling physics.

***Bailey/Busick and Hero/Gulak were both clearly awesome and easily made our 2015 MOTY List. So really I can't talk poorly about a show that had two great matches on it. Maybe it had more! The final three could be real killers, for all I know. I heartily encourage you to watch them and fill in the rest of the review in the comments section. All I know is if you add up my time spent watching this show, it was spent watching more good wrestling than bad wrestling. Believe in yourself.***

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Big E vs. Rusev

Big E v. Rusev WWE Raw 3/21

ER: Well this wasn't what I was expecting. WWE TV has been a wasteland of bad matches and bad angles, painful to even fast forward through. In 2014 we had *18* WWE TV matches on our MOTY list. 18!! Watching WWE TV two years ago felt like a really good match could break out any minute. And here we are practically a quarter way through the new year and I haven't even considered recommending a TV match to Phil until now. TV matches have felt medicated and dry. I got tired of New Day as quickly as I started to enjoy New Day. League of Nations has been dead in the water since their inception. But this match was the first time in months something felt a little different, something felt a little off, the guys looked like they were fighting for something. The match had it's flaws, some holes, but the energy was there and Big E in particular worked as if his job depended on it. The whole spectacle was really fun with LoN tossing around Kofi and Xavier on the floor, and Big E going nuts inside, spearing Rusev in the corner and crushing him with a nasty apron splash. E takes a big bump into the steps but back in the ring starts chucking Rusev around with huge suplexes. Big E has probably the best standing splash in history, and I loved Rusev getting the knees up on it (with the hang time allowing more time for a reversal) and later him hitting it. Guys kept fighting on the floor and seamlessly interfering in the match, and it led to E hitting his lunatic spear to the floor and Kofi kicking Rusev in the head. E was seriously on fire during this, like he had to work like a maniac or else some madman would blow up a commuter bus. The strength spots like him standing up out of the Accolade into an electric chair looked awesome, but then the way he was throwing his body around in this was just nuts. You usually don't see guys taking risks a couple weeks before Mania, and Raw needed this kind of momentary energy.

PAS: I liked the poor mans WAR v. NJ feel of this match, with both squads brawling on the floor while the big guys kill each other. I really liked street fight Xavier using a drop toe hold and go behind to take guys out. That spear to the floor was fucking bonkers looking and Big E was working his ass off for a random RAW match. I remember these two having good matches last year, and this feels like an under the radar awesome match up.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 18: Hijo del Fantasma, La Sombra, Máscara Dorada vs Averno, Mephisto, Negro Casas

2011-01-28 @ Arena México
Hijo del Fantasma, La Sombra, Máscara Dorada vs Averno, Mephisto, Negro Casas

0:40 in

I'm kicking myself a little for skipping over the La Aguila singles match from a little before the Dragon Rojo one, as Cubsfan says it's good, and he'd know. He also said it, with the Rojo match, was a sign that Sombra was finally putting it all together, which has been my sense too, going through this. Again, the problem is that there don't seem to be a ton of great looking stuff in 2011, so I'm going to have to pick a bit wildly.

This is a trios match with a few guys I like. For anyone here just for Sombra, Fantasma is the current King Cuerno in Lucha Underground. He's great as a rudo. He was really good as a tecnico here too. I was high on Averno when I started watching CMLL in 2014 because he was a rudo being a rudo which felt a little rare in the midst of the Negro Casas vs Rush/Shocker feud. The big disappointment in these matches is that the Mascara Dorada of 2011 was not the Mascara Dorada of 2016.

It's a fun match but nothing standout. It's got an initial ambush/beatdown by the rudos and I haven't seen one in a little bit so I enjoyed that. The best part of the first two falls were easily the mascots.

Kemonito looking bemused as his guys are getting beaten on:

Zacarias (Maybe before he was even called that) doing some nasty legwork on Dorada:

And this amazing Zacarias splash and antics in the segunda:

It was your standard beatdown with mask ripping, triple kicks, isolating of the tecnicos valiantly fighting back and all that. The biggest spot was Fantasma eating a double armdrag over the top.

which was especially cool because it actually set up the comeback in a way you almost never see. Tecnicos come back hundreds and hundreds of times with this bounce back of the ropes into a full nelson leading to rudo miscommunication, but here it actually made sense as it was Averno and Mephisto trying the double arm drag over the top once again. Stuff like that makes me way too happy. There's nothing sadder than someone whose day can be made by seeing Flair hit a validating top rope move or Tully hitting a double axe handle  from the second rope on a prone opponent without eating a foot in the face,

Of course, the CMLL Cameras missed the comeback almost entirely since they though it was a good time to go to the crowd. So it goes. Oh, speaking of that, I think, despite saying in the introduction and the graphic confirming it, that Negro Casas was the rudo captain, it was actually Averno. The sequence of falls seemed to indicate that. Not a big deal but it had me confused for a second.

If the mascot antics were the reason to watch the primera and segunda (though, to warn you, Zacarias never gets his comeuppance! The injustice), the tercera was carried by a lot of really good action. All of the tecnicos got to hit their spots. The dives were good even if some of the in ring tandem tecnico offense was a little off. Negro Casas got to be Negro Casas against multiple opponents, including this sequence:

and a great tease of an escape from Fantasma's German before he finally gets flattened. Sombra even hit his insane back flip dive, this time without three people standing around forever to catch him. It ended with a mask rip DQ and more rudo beatdown, which was still not as infuriating as Kemonito never getting his hands on Zacarias. Fun, if disposable, trios match,

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Monday, March 21, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 17: La Sombra & Mascara Dorada vs Jushin Liger & Hector Garza

2011-01-04 @ Tokyo Dome (Wrestle Kingdom V - Road to Fantastica Mania)
La Sombra & Mascara Dorada vs Jushin Liger & Hector Garza

This isn't at all my sort of match, a spotty, sloppy eight minute lucha spotfest. It's sort of what I thought all lucha was in 1998. It was fun and it achieved its goal for the most part and the idea of Garza and Liger as a team was too good to pass up. They're two of the best jerk heels in the history of wrestling, after all. It's worth it just to see them come out:

This was the big 1/4 Tokyo Dome show for 2011 and this match particular was to whet appetites for the upcoming Fantastica Mania tour, the first of such. The match had to be as stereotypically lucha-y as possible, with contortions and dives and armdrags and whatever else. There was a dive train in the middle and another at the end.

And there were botches. Lots of botches. Mascara Dorada was the worst offender as he consistently went for the most challenging things (including hitting that step up flip dive that is all the rage now five years before it was all the rage). He barely managed his rope walking at the start of the match, blew a run up arm drag on Liger (but recovered), and had some really rough headscissors. He's much more poised and polished now.

Sombra took it up to an extra level too, not conent to do planchas but having to spin on them. He put an extra rotation into his split-legged moonsault and finished the match with a twisting bodysplash of the top, scoring the pin and plenty of trash talk on Liger to set up their title match during the tour.

My favorite part was Liger and Garza working together. They had double team offense that ranged from fun (a lifting set up by Liger ending with a Garza kick:
to ridiculous (a catapult moonsault that just didn't quite work).

The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and it probably got people hyped for the tour, which was obviously a success as they're still doing it annually. It was nice to see Sombra stretch his athleticism just a little further both to see that he could hit some more advanced moves but also that he was savvy enough to show restraint and not do it every time out. It's nice to have something to escalate you.

I will say that this was probably the worst "Let's wait for the dive!" I've ever seen, but it's forgivable in the context: the dive was so insane that it probably sold tickets. How can you fault them not wanting to have Sombra kill himself with that in mind?

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

SLL's All-Request Sunday Morning - 3/20/16

Wahoo McDaniel vs. Dick Murdoch (WWC, 1991)
Requested by Timbo Slice

You know, the great thing about a matchup like Wahoo vs. Murdoch is that it really doesn't matter if this happened in 1971, 1981, or 1991, because it was probably going to work either way. Until they reached "my bones will shatter if I punch you" age, these two can work a match against each other, and seeing as they both died before reaching that age, no surprise that this was a fun little match. Wahoo gets the advantage early on with chops. Interesting that Murdoch complains about open-handed strikes before throwing closed fists. He certainly did things his own way. He did bumping his own way, too, though in this case, I'm not sure that's such a good thing. He slides out of the ring after getting struck down by Wahoo, seemingly under his own power, but when he hits the floor, he somersaults and rolls a good 15-20 feet away from the ring in a very "what the fuck"-ish manner. He gets some assistance from his second, who I feel like I should recognize, but can't. He kinda looks like a "before" picture of Ted Arcidi. I bet it's someone really obvious, and I'll feel like a dope for not recognizing him immediately. Anyway, he gives Murdoch an invisible foreign object, which Dick uses to turn the tide. The ref suspects foul play, but Murdoch assures him through pantomime that he threw a palm strike to a nine-foot tall man. Not that I dislike invisible foreign object routines, but I do kinda dig that it was just used here as a transition spot rather than building an entire segment of the match around it. Pretty rare to see it used that way, and I thought it was clever. The rest of this match is these two beating the fuck out of each other. In a Wahoo McDaniel/Dick Murdoch match? I know, who woulda thought?

Also, Dick Murdoch's ass at the end. Just warning you.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Lucha Memes 12/25/15 Review

Lucha Memes is one of the super indies which have shown up in Mexico lately booking matches out of my brain. A lot of the time they don't live up to the on paper possibility, but always worth checking out. 

Alas de Acero, Aramis, Iron Kid y Demasiado vs Suicida, Freelance, Súper Mega y Séptimo Rayo

PAS: This is a spotfest opener, with a mix of cool and blown spots. Suicida and Freelance are always a welcome sight and they break out the two coolest dives of the match with Suicida going horizontal on a tope and Freelance getting thrown to the celling by his partner in a tope con hilo. There was some pretty bad construction Ric Blade stuff with chairs for the finish, much more of a chance to see some fun guys then a good match

Arez, Impulso y Belial vs Decnnis, Toscano y Zumbido

PAS: This a vetrans vs. young hot shot luchadores Indystrongtibles. The young guys have some fun spots, and I enjoy Zumbido, but parts of this were pretty bad. Toscano especially was clearly just mailing this whole thing in. Not enough good to recommend, most time your veterans work hard on these indy shows, not here.

ER: This wasn't good, but I did think Zumbido was actually really good in this. Not good enough to lift up 5 other guys, but his stuff looked like Zumbido's stuff, which is good. Loved him leaning jaw first into a Belial superkick, taking his huge flip bump to the floor, dragging a guy to the apron to paste him with a DDT. I thought he was a bright spot. Skip to those spots. 

Negro Navarro vs Virus

PAS: Maestro match of the year, and just beautiful grappling. No catch and release stuff, all nasty twists and counters. Both guys are like a pair of jazz masters just riffing, Navarro tries an attack, Virus comes up with a trippy way to get out, and Navarro counters his counter. Virus does this awesome thing where he is stuck in a submission and he just shifts his weight around until he finds a weak spot in the submission. Lesser mat workers will just go from hold to hold, you get to see Virus show his work. Navarro is especially great at setting up a submission and have an extra crank, he gets everything lined up and then BOOM here comes a quick extra violent twist. I loved this so much, it is a match up I dreamed about for years and it has always lived up to expectations. 

ER: This was just constant, and so damn impressive. Phil mentions most guys going hold to hold, and it's totally true. Submission, break, start over. Submission, let other guy go, start over. The stuff is impressive, but never advances things. This is constant advancement. There's a rope break and a truce off of it, but most of it is just two men wanting to roll and wanting to beat the other without strikes. It's a benefit of a una caida match, although most una caida matches are just worked like shorter, lesser matches. I can't fathom some of the predicaments each man ends up in during this match, even though they pretty clearly intentionally get into those positions. The foresight is incredible. Navarro on his back with Virus standing, Virus appears to be stepping around to get in the mount, but instead he's just slyly hooking Navarro's leg with his own leg, then dropping down and falling to his left, the momentum naturally rolling Navarro up a bit, as Virus is already focused on clamping down his leg at the knee over Navarro's leg. It's smooth, fast beautiful and the match is full of little things like that. No robotics, just too experts with incredible instincts who make this kind of stuff look easy. We know it's not easy, but you'd never know watching these two. Also let's give a shout out to the awesome ref in cool glasses, bowtie and short sleeve pink shirt. That man is almost distractingly cool. 

Dalys vs Keira

PAS: This was pretty bad, Dalys was a last minute replacement for Marcela and that would have work a lot better as Dalys can't do this kind of workrate joshi luchadora match at all. She is pretty Sexy Starish here, the rollup section early looked totally amateurish. She works kind of stiff but that is her only positive. Double pin finish just adds to the turd sandwich. 

Dr. Cerebro vs Negro Casas

PAS: What we got of this was pretty great, Casas is a wrestling genius and Cerebro is one of the more underrated guys in wrestling history. There was a great strike exchange with both guys laying into each other and doing a great job of selling each shot, Casas especially can write a novel with every expression. Still this goes 5 minutes, which is barely enough for a first fall, much less an entire match. I have no idea why you book this and give it such short shrift. Negro Casas is at the show, you booked a cool first time match, let him do his thing.

ER: I've always been curious about how things like this happen. I don't know how lucha payouts work, but I have to imagine Casas can demand more than your average luchador. So how does this happen? There are a few scenarios, so we can figure out which is the most likely: 1) Casas calls up and says "Hey I'm gonna be in Naucalpan, any room for me to pop in and work a really short match? I won't charge much." 2) Booker in the back says "Alright boys, go out and give me 4 minutes, and NOTHING MORE." 3) Both men just happen to work a short match, get into a shouting match with booker in the back who expected them to go longer. 4) Potentially all three of those things. 

Trauma I y Trauma II vs Black Terry y Negro Navarro

PAS: These two teams had one of my favorite matches of the decade in 2011 and this match hits a lot of the same beats. The match starts with cool mat sections between II and Terry and I and Navarro. Navarro and I were doing some catch and release stuff which I don't usually love, but works fine with a son trying to upstage his father. Navarro ends one mat section with a little tap on the head, and T1 responds with a nasty slap to Pops ear. This causes Navarro to do this great semi concussed selling, and it gets nasty from there with both sons trying to take out their father and their dad's old drinking buddy. Both oldsters are great brawlers, and there is a point where Terry has II in a full mount and is just punching him right in the jaw. I admit it is a little unnerving to see Trauma II slap someone he loves, but I suppose I should divorce art from the news. Finish kept this a bit below the 2011 classic as Navarro gets eliminated and it comes down to Terry v. both Traumas, considering the whole story was patricide, it is off to have Terry be the last man standing. Still Terry is a great last man standing as he opens up his own forehead with a headbutt before succumbing to the spinning figure four.

ER: Weird, cool match that had strange undercurrents to it. I was not expecting that slap to Navarro, and Navarro either did one of the all time great sells or he wasn't much expecting it either. Navarro acted kind funny and bell rung the rest of the match so who the hell knows. But things clearly changed after that. Now Navarro did work a tough match earlier in the night so maybe he just needed a reason to sit out a bit, but I bought it no matter how odd it was. From there the structure was odd, as instead of matwork gamesmanship, with guys working holds and then letting the other guy go, you had brawling gamesmanship. Terry would come in, slap around Trauma I for a bit, then let up. Then Trauma II would come in, slap Terry around a bit, then let up. I thought Terry looked great throughout this and drove the story along with his facials, and then doing his own amazing selling. Him dropping to his knees after a strike exchange reminded me of Lawler/Dundee. Loved him holding onto the headlock a couple times with Trauma trying to push him off, with Terry hitting the breaks and dropping down to the mat. I love headlock spots where the guy holds on. And those mounted punches to Trauma II were some of the nastiest strikes I've seen this decade. Terry might still be the best damn brawler in the game, which is crazy considering he's the age of my father. The two of them each have similar mustaches, one of them is the arguable best brawler in wrestling, the other is thinking of how best to retire from his dentistry practice. So we had a weird match, not the match I was expecting, but a match with tons of nasty charm. 

Atlantis vs Caifán

PAS: This match is a real example of the value of blood. Atlantis is a wrestler who at his prime was a graceful athlete, he has lost almost all of that (there is a bodypress in this match which is really bad), but still has great timing and a sense of a match. Caifan goes ahead and sprays blood out of his head and bumps into the crowd and tries really hard to make this memorable. Don't know he completely succeeds, but I mostly enjoyed it.

***Navarro/Virus was awesome and was an easy addition to our 2015 Ongoing MOTY List***

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Friday, March 18, 2016

His Rhymes are Homicidal, He'll Take Your Title He's Ricky Banderas far from Billy Idol

Ricky Banderas v. Slash Venom IWA-PR 10/18/03 -EPIC

This is exactly the kind of blood soaked spectacle I was hoping to unearth. I think I had seen clips of the finish before, but never the whole match. Slash Venom is awesome southern indy wrestler Flash Flanagan and he brings the crazy right to Banderas. Banderas works him from pillar to post early busting him open with chair shots and big bombs. Venom takes over a bit and hits a spring board elbow to the floor through the table, which gets crazy height, totally memorable highspot which is really overshadowed by the bat shit finish. Venom sets up a table and they brawl to a balcony legit 20-25 feet above the floor, they tease a couple of falls before Banderas chucks Venom over the rail, causing him to take a flat back bump on a gym floor after a 20 foot plus drop. It was as crazy, if not more crazy then the Foley HIC bumps or that time New Jack tried to murder Vic Grimes. Finish would have made it memorable no matter what, but this was a corker before that too.

Judas Mesias v. Abyss TNA 1/22/08 - FUN

This was a barbed wire massacre match, basically a no-rope barbed wire match with barbed wire weapons. This isn't a match which is going to pump up Mesais reputation. It had several gruesome visuals, and some nastish bumps (Mesias goes stomach first on a barbed wire board which had to suck). The fact they had an actual feud building to it, puts it above a throw away IWA-MS Mad Man Pondo garbage match, but not by much. Abyss will bleed a ton but man is he shitty at lots of other things you are supposed to do as a wrestler. Mesias didn't look much better in the basics category either, there is one point where they are on their knees exchanging "punches" which was about as bad as I remember seeing. Also the backstory of this some bad Russo knock off Kane shit. Apparently Father James Mitchell is Abyss's biological father, and he has brought his other son Judas Mesias in to destroy Abyss. Tenay for some reason keeps calling Mesias, Abyss's step brother as opposed to his half brother. Is the gimmick that Mitchell married Mesias's mother and help raise her blood splitting son?


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Complete and Accurate El Mesias

El Mesais/Ricky Banderas/Mil Muertes is a really interesting C+A case, he is currently knocking out classic after classic on TV seeming every week. He is probably the guy most likely to break out an EPIC in 2016, he has this long career under various guises in promotions like TNA, IWA-PR and AAA that I haven't really followed and don't get a ton of attention, so I imagine there are gems to be mined. As always matches are broken down EPIC, GREAT, FUN, SKIPPABLE and lots of the reviews will have Eric or Tomk tagging along


Ricky Banderas vs. Dick Togo IWA-PR 11/19/99 - FUN


Ricky Banderas v. Rey Gonzalez IWA 6/03?-GREAT
Ricky Banderas v. Slash Venom IWA-PR 10/18/03 -EPIC


Judas Mesias v. Abyss TNA 1/22/08 - FUN


Mil Muertes v. Blue Demon Jr. Lucha Underground 9/7/14 -FUN
Mil Muertes v. Ricky Mandel Lucha Underground 9/13/14-SKIPPABLE
Mil Muertes v. Drago Lucha Underground 9/27/14- GREAT
Mil Muertes v. Famous B Lucha Underground 9/28/14- SKIPPABLE
10 Man Scramble Lucha Underground 10/4/14 -FUN
Mil Muertes v. Fenix Lucha Underground 10/4/14 -SKIPPABLE
Aztec Warfare Lucha Underground 10/5/14 -GREAT
Mil Muertes v. Fenix Lucha Underground 10/19/14- GREAT


Mil Muertes v. Chavo Guerrero Lucha Underground 1/8/15 -FUN
Mil Muertes v. Fenix Lucha Underground 1/25/15 -EPIC
Mil Muertes v. Fenix Lucha Underground 3/21/15 - EPIC
Mil Muertes v. Drago Lucha Underground 3/22/15- GREAT
Mil Muertes v. Son of Havoc Lucha Underground 4/1/15 - FUN
Mil Muertes v. Prince Puma Lucha Underground 4/19/15 -EPIC
El Mesias/Electroshock v. Blue Demon Jr./La Parka AAA 8/9/15 - FUN
Mil Muertes v. Ivelisse Lucha Underground 11/14/15 - GREAT
Mil Muertes v. Prince Puma v. Pentagon Jr. Lucha Underground 11/22/15 -EPIC


Mil Muertes v. King Cuerno Lucha Underground 1/30/16-GREAT
Mil Muertes v. Pentagon Dark Lucha Underground 10/23/16-FUN
Mil Muertes vs. Cage vs. Jeremiah Crane Lucha Underground 6/26/16 - EPIC


Mil Muertes v. Ramses Lucha Libre Presenta 5/7/17-SKIPPABLE

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MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 16: La Sombra vs Dragón Rojo Jr. (2010)

Aired: 2010-12-26
taped: 2010-11-30 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
La Sombra vs Dragón Rojo Jr.

I've been cherry picking my way through Sombra's 2010. There were a few trios titles matches but they weren't anything interesting (I blame Mascara). There was an Aguila match I skipped too. As always, cubsfan's match finder ( is the greatest tool in the world if anyone is interesting at filling in the gaps. I skipped a Volador title match too, because Volador brings out the worst tendencies in everyone he faces. If you like crazy spotfests, though, you might want to take a look.

This, however, was the first singles match we have of Sombra vs Dragon Rojo, jr. They feuded more heavily in 2012, and I'll look at those later. This was a blast, though. I liked it a ton, and I think it was yet another good indication of just how far Sombra had come. I'd liken this to some of the recent Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi matches. The spectacular stuff wasn't quite as spectacular, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable.

It was all grounded where it had to be too. It was back and forth, throughout. Every transition felt earned. There was a lot of struggle, even if it was broad. The dives were plentiful and served as chapter breaks, even on top of the other transitions. There were a few moments of call back and payoff (Dragon Lee sliding out early to try to get the advantage on Sobmra, only to have it backfire on it, and then trying it again in the tercera with much greater sucess; Sombra springboarding in one too many times and paying for it; the roll up suplex working in the primera but generating a kickout in the tercera).

That last one didn't feel over the top either. It was part of the escalation towards the big finish. This wasn't a title or an apuestas match. In that regard, there felt like less of a finishing stretch to me. There were a lot of two counts in the tercera, but the real crazy kickouts weren't until the last minute or so. I was high on some of the tags but this is probably my favorite Sombra match that I've seen for this spotlight so far. Dragon Rojo, Jr. in 2016 is no great shakes, but I'm very much looking forward to their 2012 title matches now.

Bit of character from both to close it out:

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lucha Worth Watching 2/5/16 & 2/9/16

Barbaro Cavernario, Negro Casas & Mephisto vs. Mascara Dorada, Volador Jr. & Mistico (CMLL 2/5/16)

Major crowd pleaser Arena Mexico main event with everybody getting the opportunity to shine. Dorada is back from his NJPW sojourn and looks like a star, snapping off ranas and headscissors with more whip than anybody else on the roster, projecting huge on bumps; Cavernario is his perfect dance partner, excellent yin to his yang, taking those ranas and making them look neck breaking. They peak with Dorada catching Barbaro on the apron with a rana that sends him sprawling hard to the floor. Barbaro looked so big time in this match, right from the opening seconds of him entering the arena in his Fred Flintstone smock on up to the mammoth top rope splash to the floor that his knees still somehow allow him to do. Casas is gorgeous in his simplicity and it's always a treat to watch him front kick twerps like Volador square in the mouth while his goons hold onto him. A motivated Casas is a thing to marvel, and here he's in his Arena Mexico hamming-it-up glory, acting as ringleader to the chaos, sneaking shots when needed and stooging when that's needed. He takes a bullet fast flip bump off the top rope to the floor that made my head spin. For his part Volador actually shows some balls here and finally snaps and punts Casas right in the dick to end the match. It's nice to see Volador not looking like an utter wimp for once. Mephisto gets a nice main event appearance and clearly aims to make the most of it. He makes his intentions clear right away as he breaks up a tag by kicking Volador right in the eye with his boot toe. Mephisto gets to hog some nice big moments and gets to show off a bit, too, bumping to the floor a couple times, launching Mistico into the entrance steps; The tecnicos all hit stereo flip dives, tons of beautiful headscissors abound, and the whole thing is worked rather breathlessly. As it should be.

Comandante Pierroth, Sagrado & Misterioso Jr. vs. Delta, Esfinge & Rey Cometa (CMLL 2/9/16)

You know who I really like? La Comando Caribeno. They're just classic rudos, like the nuevo Dinamitas. Dragon Lee and Rush get a lot of deserved praise, but you know who is also awesome? Their papa, the Comandante. He's a juiced up nasty asskicker who really should be getting more love, but isn't exactly part of any major programs so I get it. I'd love to see him team up with Rush and just beat the hell out of flippers. But the team just works so nicely together. Misterioso Jr. has been one of the more underrated CMLL undercarders for years now, so that's not a surprise. Sagrado is the surprise of the team, because Sagrado is a guy you've seen for a decade now, and a guy that has blown for a decade. He was a clueless tecnico, star of several aborted pushes, as once they would try and push him they would again realize "oh wait he still wrestles like Sagrado and also has the charisma of Sagrado." You watched that guy suck for a decade. Or maybe you were smart and did not watch Sagrado. I watched Sagrado. He was terrible. Now he is decidedly not terrible at all. He's a totally different wrestler as a rudo. He has much better instincts and doesn't do wretched highspots. He throws himself into being a rudo (sometimes literally, watch him hurl himself into the barrier after taking an Esfinge dive in the primera). These guys all really fit nicely as a team, which is oddly something I don't often get with lucha teams. Many tecnico teams are fungible. Volador can team with Stuka or Delta or Dragon Lee or Diamante Azul or Valiente and those teams would all seem like guys standing on the apron around each other. And they do. Ingobernales feel like a team. And like them, so do La Comando Caribeno. And Pierroth is somehow becoming a marvel. I don't remember a bunch of Poder Boricua stuff jumping out at me, but suddenly he's old and on the gas and I'm seeking out every new match that pops up. Welting up tecnico chests with hard slaps, stiffing guys with sentons, just running that ring like a real dickhead general. The tecnicos get some fun highspots, Esfinge hits a potentially botched armdrag but hangs in there and makes it work, we get two different stereo dives, but the real fun is watching Caribenos nail all of the little things. Pierroth is working more like Ronnie Garvin than a classic lucha rudo, and it's awesome.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 15: CMLL Universal Tournament 2010 Part 2: Sombra vs Jushin Liger

2010-08-13 @ Arena México
Jushin Lyger vs La Sombra [CMLL Universal]

11:03 in

Thankfully, tournament finals are better than tournaments. There was a lot of novelty to this, what with Liger and all. It's great to hear his music in the Arena Mexico setting, for instance. He had cut a path through two of my favorites on the way to the finals, but the matches aren't really worth going out of your way to see. The Casas match had some fun legwork but was too slight and the Garza match was blink and you miss it. In the semis, he beat La Mascara and there's no good reason to watch 2010 Mascara (more on that in a few days). Liger's a great heel and was more than happy to rudo it up on his way to the finals.

In some ways, that actually made this match a little disappointing to me. It was worked mostly on the level until the end. Liger didn't even wear his black gear like he had in the earlier rounds. He's hugely charismatic, and he spent a lot of the match celebrating the moves he hit in order to get heat, but there wasn't even really a prolonged control segment here.

Now, that said, this was still good, even as a mostly back and forth affair. The crowd was still hugely behind Sombra, and Liger's power bomb-centric offense made for a lot of strong near-falls. The primera was pretty short, with them going right to the initial dive (though it was teased that Liger would get there first, but Sombra did instead), and Sombra launching his roll-up-into-a-suplex which looks more impressive these days since he does it as a deadlift powerbomb instead.

The segunda, however, was much more back and forth than you usually get out of modern CMLL and that helped build to the tercera with its selling, bombs, dives, and near-falls. Again, I didn't love the finish, which was Liger's second, Okumura, grabbing the leg and Liger pulling the mask for a roll up, as I just didn't feel it was built up to enough (I like screwjob finishes fine when they fit the match), but it did show how thoroughly they were protecting Sombra at this stage. Most importantly, he felt like he belonged in a match this big. Liger's celebrating was amazing. I'll leave you with that:

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It's Gruesome That Someone So Handsome as Regal Should Care

Lord Steven Regal v. Keiji Muto NJ 11/3/95 EPIC

Regal was so great in Japan, an alternative universe where he spent the 90's working All Japan or New Japan or WAR would be a universe I would like to visit. Muto really doesn't bring a ton to this match, he had some nice slaps and chops and a pretty moonsault, but this was a Regal show. Regal was such a nasty fucker here, stomping on Muto's inseam, elbow him in the eye, palming him in the temple, it was a brutal mauling and really made a match without a ton of action really compelling. The finish with Regal sort of trying a moonsault was a little silly, and it really felt like the wrong guy won. Still these are minor complaints for such a pretty bit of violence.


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Monday, March 14, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 2 Episode 7: Death Comes in Threes

ER: Alright, Sexy Star opens the show, and then Willie Mack shirtcocks it into frame!

1. Marty the Moth Martinez vs. The Mack

ER: Good to see Mack back on TV and this was good for being short and interrupted. Odd of Vampiro of all people to mention that Mack doesn't spend much time in the gym. Mack clearly looks like a guy who works out. Vampiro looks like a divorced dad at a Blaze Ya Dead Homie show. Mack's strikes, lariat and flying kick all looked great, and Moth hit a bonkers dive, just no hands and crazy distance and Mack manned up and absorbed it. That dive was right up there with Cuerno's best topes.

PAS: Yeah this was a pretty good battle of thick dudes with nice high spots. By far the best Moth has looked and that dive and his finishing second rope curb stomp were both super cool. Still this was mostly just a set up of for the angle, and while the outfit looked cool, it is still leading to more Sexy Star, still a Moth v. Mack gimmick match would be great

ER: Really nice straight Fenix vignette. No comic book nonsense, no mythical hokey backstory, just an actual really good video showing motivation, cool spots, and training. Reminded me of a few great Fenix spots I had forgotten, easily showed the highs and lows of the character, didn't feel the need to make him a literal phoenix soaring over mountains and like wearing giant talon hands or some shit......but I can't really deny that Jack Evans getting jumped at the urinal, Drago kicking out a lightbulb, and then everybody in the room producing nunchucks from their person was not awesome as hell.

PAS: Yeah the bathroom brawl was closer to the kind of LU vignettes I like. Drago didn't turn into a CGI dragon or anything, he just kung fu kicked some lightbulbs and broke out some nunchucks.

2. Cage vs. Taya

ER: Not totally sure how I was supposed to feel about all of this whole thing, but I actually kind of liked a lot of it. Yeah, I'm not sure how a small woman getting the shit beaten out of her is still somehow supposed to be the heel, so if you think about it in that way then the whole segment is immediately completely idiotic and misguided. In a vacuum though, Cage did a lot of impressive things, and Taya took some legitimately nasty stuff. That superplex from the middle rope to the floor was just absolutely disgusting. Any person that can take a spot like that and not shit out their spleen earns my respect, whatever that means. That spot was sheer lunacy. But Cage didn't hold back, so we didn't have to see him work like he was in a Sexy Star match, gently setting her on the mat for fear of hurting her. Quite the opposite, really, which is kind of weird to see, but hey in storyline this was the match Taya wanted. Taya is a pretty lousy seller, as there's no nuance whatsoever, just take a big move and lie there dead, but once she's on her feet again she's sprinting around like the match was just starting. But taking some of these moves full force is impressive on its face so I was just constantly at odds throughout the whole match. This was a tough match to have opinions on. I could take literally every part of this match and write two separate reviews, one praising it and the other completely trashing it, and they would both come out looking pretty accurate. "How awesome did Cage look after getting two bottles broken over his head!?" "How stupid were those bottle spots?! Not only did a potential huge weapon spot get used as a throwaway moment during an intergender squash, but the ridiculous glass shatter sound effects were hilarious, and somehow glass didn't even make him bleed!!" Both sentences seem right to me. "That superplex spot was maybe the craziest spot in a promotion who has a history of having the craziest spots. Amazing." "How can you do that spot and not have Taya leave dead on a stretcher? How does the match continue after that!? So stupid." Both sentences seem right to me. So I guess I'll say, "I really hate intergender stuff, I thought Taya earned tons of respect for taking such a nasty beating, I thought the whole segment made Cage look like a monster, I find it somewhat stupid that you're building up a top babyface to look like a monster by destroying a woman." Maybe the most I have enjoyed/disliked a segment.

PAS: I was leaning more towards the hate part of this. I agree that superplex was cool, but the entirety of this match was a big roid guy beating the shit out of a woman while the crowd cheered. It was the Ray Rice video of wrestling with worse selling. What is the wrestling logic of this anyway? What exactly did Taya do to deserve this beating? Jim Cornette or Jimmy Hart would terrorize a territory for months before they get their comeuppance, Taya shows up last week, interferes a bit and then she gets brutalized like Patricia Arquette in True Romance. I know Rodriguez is a Tarantino acolyte but Gandolfini wasn't the hero.

ER: Dammmmmn Brenda! I'm unsure where these are going, since Famous B is a "Recently Retired World Renowned Underground Fighter", but I am loving them.

3. Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Mil Muertes

ER: Awesome match, as it should have been. Three ways as a rule stink, but we've had some talented guys over the past year figure out some nice ways around the more annoying aspects of the match structure. And in a match like this where three guys are go go going, you don't end up with many moments of "Hey where's so and so been for 4 minutes?" and it never devolved into a neverending series of men pulling legs of men pinning other men. My only complaint is that now that the fed is sweetening sound on practically every damn strike, can we maybe get a new sound effect for "strike", or at least a range of sounds? They have one sound for humans making contact with each other, and it makes a stiff superkick sound exactly the same as one of Taya's slaps from earlier. Surely there's a way to differentiate from handclap, gunshot, thunder, right? Plus I want to imagine a man standing just off screen wearing a vest and suspenders, timing the coconut halves to the sound of Muertes' big horse hooves pounding across the mat, or when the table got lit on fire during the Pentagon/Vampiro match that same man would be off camera crinkling cellophane against a microphone. The blind viewers at home would be put right into the middle of that crackling fire! But jeez either only save the sound effects for the most brutal strikes, or show a little range. Anyway, threse three guys went crazy in this match. Puma decided he was going to break out every flying twist in his playbook, so we had gonzo stuff off Dario's office, him running down rails like he was in XXX, just hitting dive after dive after dive. It was crazy. It was awesome. Muertes was an absolute killer in this. If you're gonna sit in a skull throne and glower over everybody, you better turn it on when you're in the ring, and that was no problem. Just as Ambrose and Reigns worked to dispatch the monster Lesnar, I loved Pentagon and Puma working to keep Mil down. The barrage of superkicks could have easily been played silly, and instead came off looking like they were taking turns using a shovel to beat a body they were about to bury. Pentagon was kinda odd man out here as his moments of shine didn't look as good, and the big parts of the match seemed more about Puma/Muertes, but I found myself liking his team work moments with Puma the most of his stuff. I did love his wild bump through the chairs, and his brawling in general. I was hoping he would snap Puma's arm, but wasn't complaining to much when Muertes hit him with a bullet train of a spear. This was a pretty breathless sprint right here, most of it playing like a highlight video. I probably rewound this one more than any match in recent memory.

PAS: I loved this too. Muertes is a hell of a big match wrestler, one of the better big match guys of the decade. With his big LU matches and the two Parka v. Mesias brawls he has a hell of resume. It had a great pace, and the one thing a three way does is allow people to sell big moves, but not slow down the action at all. I am not a huge Ricochet fan, but I like Prince Puma, not exactly sure what the difference is, but Puma is a little less shticky and the matches have less bloat then some of his indy stuff. Pentagon Jr. is super cool, great atmosphere, but I am still waiting for his breakthrough match. He was really fun here, but I kind of want him to be crazier, and I thought he was the third of these guys. I loved how this finished the story with Muretes looking strong, and it set up next weeks match great. Really looking forward to another Fenix v. Muertes match.


***ALSO, to no surprise, we're adding the triple threat match to our 2015 ongoing MOTY list. It was really good.***

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